| Arizona |

10 Photos that Epitomize Life in Phoenix 100 Years Ago

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

Arizona State University recently released more than 4,500 photos chronicling the Phoenix area's development from a cowtown in 1884 to an emerging metropolis in 1947. 

The collection, available for perusal and download online, is one of largest collections of Phoenix photography documenting this time period. 

Some of the photos, recovered from the archives of the McColloch Brothers Inc., a commercial photography company run by Scottish immigrants James Morrison McCulloch and William Patrick McCulloch, feature familiar landmarks, such as the Orpheum Theatre at 203 W. Adams Street. 

Some reveal fascinating details about the life of the Arizona-dwellers who came before us — how they dressed, decorated for Christmas, got their tires changed, and packed up food to ship it from farm to market. 

Others chronicle tragedy and triumph. One dramatic photo taken in 1910, shows a hotel on Adam's Street going up in flames on the site where the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel now stands. Another documents the moment the first water spilled over the Theodore Roosevelt Dam in 1915.

Here are 10 of our favorites:

10) The Adams Hotel goes up in flames, 1910

9) The first water spills over Theodore Roosevelt Dam, 1915

8) A child sitting on packing crates, 1920

7) View of Phoenix from County Courthouse, 1929

6) Central Avenue Dairy, 1937

5) James Cagney fans stand in line to see “Captain of the Clouds” at the Orpheum Theatre, 1942

4) Bill Sims Studebaker Christmas window display, 1940

3) Phoenix Fire Department Central Station #1, 1935

2) Children play on a tractor at Ryder Ranch (undated)

1) Traffic at the intersection of West Van Buren Street and North First Avenue, 1942

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.